Romanian private collectors after 2000. Collections "under construction"

Simona Vilau

Simona Vilau and Valentina Iancu: Art Collecting in Romania

In the 90s, private collectors emerged as new investors in the art field, such as various people with economic studies, lawyers, doctors, real estate businessmen/businesswomen, or simply art lovers that invested money in artworks.
The last ten years were more sophisticated and fashionable, because private galleries and auction houses emerged and created their own clients and even their own collectors. We can say that there are certain types of collectors that were formed by gallery-owners (that often get the role of an advisor), who advised them in buying specific artworks. Their criteria are a mixture of good aesthetic quality and potential in further value on the market.
First, we have to make a difference by separating the types of collectors that emerged in Romania, from its first years of transition to its first attempts to create a complete chain in a 'fresh' art market. The interest in Romanian Art is expanding and is becoming more commercial and quantifiable.
The collectors profiles are various, but in the same time, similar. We are talking about people who have financial power, usually coming from business, banking or commerce, other times having liberal professions, such as attorneys, doctors or architects and who began this kind of adventure from various reasons. For the love of Art, for the sake of an investment that has all its chances to develop and grow as value, or for a mixture between these two reasons: the idealistic and the pragmatic one.
One of the definitions of a collector, that Gábor Hunya gave, was 'a collector is a person who has more pictures than place on his walls'. So, this quote says a lot! In a way, about the limitations of a collection, because collecting means mostly buying, investing, and in other way, it means storing pieces in a way that they would survive over the years in the best conditions possible.  

A young, but very strong contemporary art collection is Emilian Radu Collection, from Bucharest, started in 2010. Mr. Emilian Radu is also the president of the association Friends of MNAC. His expanding collection contains, besides international art pieces, very bold examples of artworks, by Romanian artists that are 'in a search for the inner-self'. The artists shown in this collection are Nicolae Comanescu (b. 1968), Dumitru Gorzo, Gili Mocanu (b. 1971), Mircea Suciu, Teodor Graur, Ecaterina Vrana, Anca Muresan (b. 1965), Ion Grigorescu, Sorin Tara (von Neudorf), Florin Mitroi, Ion Barladeanu (b. 1946), Adrian Preda (b. 1985), Andrei Gamart (b. 1980) etc.

Another consistent private collection, based on emerging artists (mostly painters) is Daniel Stefanica Collection, from Bucharest. Daniel Stefanica is an attorney who started collecting at the beginning of the 2000s. His collection is very rich in artworks from emerging artists, or former-emerging artists, starting with Rostopasca group - an artistic, neo-avant-garde, neo-Expressionist, performing group, with 7 members – Angela Bontas (b. 1972), Alina Buga (b. 1968), Nicolae Comanescu, Dumitru Gorzo, Alina Pentac, Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, from the end of the 90s, and ending with emerging painters after 2005, such as Zanga (b. 1990), Stefan Ungureanu (b. 1984), or Codruta Cernea (b. 1979).

Another unique collection is Daniel Ioan Collection, from Bucharest, started in 2009. The main motif of this collection is the self-portrait in Romanian contemporary art, so we are not talking about a collection based on value, but a collection based on a pattern, a specific thematic preoccupation of the artists. This collection comprises over 100 self-portraits, both modern and contemporary. Among the contemporary, one can find relevant names of emerging and established artists, such as Ion Grigorescu, Suzana Fantanariu (b. 1947), Gheorghe Ilea (b. 1957), Bogdan Vladuta, Alexandru Radvan (b. 1977), Ciprian Ciuclea (b. 1976), Ana Maria Micu (b. 1979), Mihail Cosuletu (b. 1982), Lea Rasovszky (b. 1986).

A very important collector's figure, an almost iconic figure, I might say, from outside Bucharest and Cluj, is Mr. Sorin Costina from Brad, Hunedoara district (South-West of Transylvania). Sorin Costina is a medical doctor, as profession, and started collecting, by pure passion, in the early 60s, in his very youth. His long-term counselor had been the artist Horia Bernea, who helped him to collect important names of Romanian artists, active after 1965, as Corneliu Baba (1906-1997), Paul Neagu, Ion Grigorescu, Stefan Bertalan (b. 1930), Marian Zidaru, Ion Nicodim (1932-2007), and many others.

The Romanian process of collecting or, better said, the process of collecting Romanian art, is continuously expanding and transforming. From the youngest art entrepreneurs, that had started collecting since early youth (Alexandru Davidian is 26, started collecting at 19), to the established collectors, as several described above, we can notice a genuine appetite for fresh art pieces, for novelties, and for promising names (why not say, also, affordable prices). Sometimes, we can even say that emerging artists become better-known through their presence in art collections and that the collector is, indeed, a catalyst in the evolution of an artist who works with ‘solid matter’.

I would like to thank Mr. Alexandru Davidian, Mr. Gábor Hunya, Mr. Emilian Radu, Mr. Daniel Ioan, and many others, for their support in the making of this study.